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The Carletonian

Six Carleton students awarded grants to teach English abroad

<om Austria to Spain, France to Macedonia, six Carleton seniors will be teaching English around the world next year in programs affiliated with the Fulbright Program. Sam Benshoof, Tim Carroll and Catherine Gallin each received Fulbright grants, while Laura Bramley, Amanda Plump and Hannah Robinson will teach under grants related to the Fulbright Program.

Fifteen Carleton students applied for Fulbright grants in the fall, which are sponsored by the U.S. Department of State “to increase mutual understanding between the peoples of the United States and other countries, through the exchange of persons, knowledge and skills.” The program awarded six thousand grants to “U.S. students, teachers, professionals and scholars to study, teach, lecture and conduct research in more than 155 countries” in 2008. It is designed for people who hold a Bachelor’s Degree but have not yet earned a Doctorate.

The application process lasted throughout the summer, with students turning in their personal statements or research proposals in early fall. They were then interviewed at Carleton, where they received a ranking from one to three, and applications were sent on to the Institute of International Education in New York. Applications of students who passed the national level were forwarded to their proposed host countries, and the recipients were informed last week of their acceptance.

Roger Paas, William H. Laird Professor of German and Liberal Arts and Fulbright adviser, said the number of Carleton recipients of Fulbrights this year “is down somewhat, and that has nothing to do with quality of the proposals. The number of applications was a good bit higher this year without an increase in the number of awards available.”

Carroll and Gallin, two of the three students who received direct Fulbright grants, will be teaching English and other subjects in secondary schools in Spain—Carroll as one of five selected teachers in the Cantabria region near the Basque Country and Gallin as one of 28 in Madrid, more specifically the city of Alcorcón.

“I’m interested in teaching, but I knew I didn’t want to go straight into a certification project,” Carroll said, adding he will possibly pursue a program like Admission Possible, based in the Cities, or Teach for America after teaching with Fulbright. Because the grant only involves about 16 hours of teaching per week, Carroll plans to study translation to fulfill the rest of his Fulbright award.

Gallin will likely also pursue teaching and interests in immigration, building on her experiences leading English as a Second Language courses through the ACT Center and in the Northfield community.

“I was always interested in teaching English and bilingual education, sort of the adaptation process immigrants go through,” Gallin said. “Out of all the programs, [Fulbright] was the one that appealed the most to me, where I felt like I could be learning a lot but also giving back.” Besides teaching, she will also be assisting the school with its Model United Nations program.
Benshoof—the other direct recipient—will teach in Macedonia, a location in its first year with the Fulbright Program. He originally applied to teach in Bulgaria because of the program’s lower number of applicants and the unfamiliar nature of the country but was awarded a Fulbright in Macedonia instead. He will spend this summer attempting to learn Macedonian, though language proficiency is not required in Eastern European programs. Benshoof is also interested in teaching and was granted a deferral from Teach for America until he returns from Macedonia.

Of the other three grant recipients, both Bramley and Robinson were selected by the Austrian American Educational Commission, which works through Fulbright and the Ministry of Education, the Arts and Culture. Bramley will teach at two college preparatory schools in Klagenfurt, while Robinson will teach at two vocational high schools in Salzburg. Both students served as Teaching Assistants in the German department at Carleton and will possibly pursue teaching after Fulbright, among other endeavors.

Amanda Plump, who received one of fifty grants offered by the French Ministry of Education through the Fulbright Program, will be teaching in Lyon, France. After being accepted to the Monterey Institute of International Studies for translation and interpretation, Plump was advised to brush up on her professional vocabulary, making the teaching position a perfect fit for her future plans.

“What’s neat about translation is it’s just such a flexible field,” Plump said. “I see myself more in the political field, doing international conferences when I’m young and hip and then freelance when I get older.”

As the recipients begin learning specifics about their locations and job descriptions, so also begins the process of collecting paperwork, figuring out schedules and applying for visas.

“It’s a little confusing at this point,” Carroll said. “It’s through the State Department, so it’s a big bureaucracy.”

To encourage students to overcome fears of the more complicated aspects of the Fulbright Program, Gallin spoke to students in Spanish classes last week. Though the process seems long and complicated, according to her, that shouldn’t be a deterrent. “I found the Fulbright advisers very helpful,” she said. “The process can seem rather intimidating, but what they said at the meetings is true. If you don’t apply, you won’t get it.”

The annual meeting to which she refers, which gets juniors started on the process of applying for Fulbright Grants, Watson Fellowships and Marshall Scholarships, among others, occurred Monday, though it is not too late to consider applying.

“I think students should know that although [Fulbrights] are awarded in countries throughout the world, knowing the language is not a prerequisite,” Paas said. “They should look at the opportunities and see if one matches their interests… We haven’t had as many students apply as we would like.”

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